A chance conversation at a national convention led the heads of the Florida and Georgia highway-safety agencies to agree on taping a joint message warning fans at the Oct. 29 game between the University of Georgia and the University of Florida.
Harris Blackwood, the director in Georgia of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety made the suggestion to Julie Jones, the executive director of Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles. It seemed like a natural fit, Blackwood said.
“The great thing about it is we both understand there is a problem with the number of people driving and driving at events like this,” he said. “We have as many problems with people on our side of the line as they do.”
Blackwood, a former reporter who served as Nathan Deal’s press secretary during last year’s gubernatorial campaign, drew on his contacts to convince First Coast News to lend its facilities across the street from the stadium. The company also agreed to produce the 15-second video for free and air it on its stations, too.
Florida officials have done similar videos at college games, but never one jointly with the home state of another football team, said Capt. Mark Brown, of the Florida Highway Patrol.
“We thought it was a great idea to be played at that game since there are so many people there,” he said.
The message was simple, delivered by Florida Trooper Philip Delgado and Georgia State Patrol Sgt. David Herring, who is now on Deal’s security team and used to provide security for Georgia coach Mark Richt.
The troopers joke about their allegiances to the Gators and Bulldogs and then add, “When it comes to drinking and driving, we’re on the same team.”